I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Monday 30 December 2013

A Sprig of Holly

Hello all!

Apologies for my absence around Craftyblogland - I've been battling the seasonal cough and cold, and generally feeling pretty sorry for myself.  I hope to get back in the saddle soon.

But I couldn't allow myself to fall at the final hurdle with Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of 2013.  So far, the tags he's inspired me to make have been some of my favourite creations of the year, so I couldn't miss out on the lovely December tags.  

Yes, that's tags in the plural because (after my shocking recent admission that I don't much like poinsettias!) it was Tim's second tag that really captured my heart, just down there at the end of Tim's tutorial post.

In the absence of the poinsettia die, I had considered hand-cutting my flower.  

And I was thinking of going for a white poinsettia (more in my colour line than the red), but then the fabulous Trace over at inkypinkycraft came up with the perfect white poinsettia - no way to follow that, so I decided to give up on poinsettias altogether and give in to my first love, the holly version!

It still wasn't that simple, as I'd forgotten that Decorative Strip Dies are reluctant to cut more than just paper or light card.  I did manage to get an outline by running the frosted Clearly For Art through with the Festive Greenery die, and then finished the cutting by hand.  

And I cut a couple of larger leaves completely by hand.  

I used Olive and Cornflower Blue Archival inks to stain my leaves, and added a couple of golden berry decorations.

I had a lovely time with the background of the tag - Broken China, Stormy Sky and Frayed Burlap were the main colour ingredients, and some Walnut Stain for edging.

I stamped the sentiment in Potting Soil - it seemed the right earthy sort of touch.

There's a little touch of my new favourite ribbon, the Idea-ology linen ribbon, at the top.

And the splattering was great fun...

But then, horrors, the brief break in the weather we'd been promised came earlier than expected, so I had to dive out to take the photos before my blobs and splatters of paint were fully dry, so sadly some of them got a bit smudged.  

But it was worth it, because the wind's got up again now, and I don't suppose the tag would stay still long enough to be photographed!

So, a huge thank you to Tim for an amazing year of inspiration - I've had an absolute ball and created, as I said, some of my favourite makes of the year, thanks to the 12 Tags.  

Fingers crossed for more next year... Since I'm so late with this, I've not got long to wait to find out!

And thank you to all of you for your amazing support, and your incredible inspiration.  Where would I be without Craftyblogland?!

Wishing you all a very happy New Year, and a peaceful, prosperous and (if you like that kind of thing) adventurous 2014!

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
Neil Gaiman

I'd like to enter this as my December tag in Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of 2013
And also as Bonus Tag 1 for the Funkie Junkie's 12 Tags of Christmas (plus bonuses!) sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique - the holly leaves on Linda's lovely thank you tag are the obvious inspiration, with thanks for a joyful Christmas of creativity.

Thursday 26 December 2013

A Golden Noel

Hello all... hope you are enjoying the festivities.

As very much a 12 Day celebrator, my
Christmas is far from over.  In fact, after a very quiet (lovely!!) Christmas Day, today is the noisy day of present opening and big dinner when my brother and his family will be coming.  

Since I'll be out of action for another couple of days, I thought I'd grab the chance this morning to share another Funkie Junkie tag with you.

I'm getting there with the 12 Tags of Christmas Funkie Junkie Style, and looking forward to seeing the bonuses Linda is offering.  For all the details, have a look here.

This is my take on Linda's Number 3, a pretty close casing of the tag - as you'll see if you click the link - though I don't have the Mini version of those stamps, so my images are all in "close-up", rather larger than Linda's.

And this tag certainly has music in it for me... this wonderful carol went round and round in my head as I was making it.

I started out golden-toned inks, including Wild Honey, and some Frayed Burlap and Pumice Stone, but really wasn't getting on with the look until I added some Rusty Hinge, which gave me a burnished look which I rather like.

I don't have the gold embossing paste, so I went for the Aged Gold Frantage for my textured stars, applied to embossing ink through the Tim Holtz star stencil... 

... and added some to the edges top and bottom too, as well of course as doing some inky stencilling through the mask.

Love the angel - it's her first time out of the packet...

... as it is for the Wise Men.

And I was lucky enough to get the Vintage Noel die in the recent Sizzix Mega Sale (insane reductions), so I was delighted to be able to play with it here.  (There may be some others under the tree this afternoon!!)

This also got a layer of Aged Gold Frantage, but then I wanted to tie it in with the Rusty Hinge I'd used, so I added some Copper Kettle embossing powder to the edges to get that burnished look on the lettering too.

I outlined it with a Sepia Pitt Penn to give it a little more definition against the background.

The seam binding had been dyed with tea/coffee, and I added some Rusty Hinge and Tarnished Brass Distress Stains to the mix, as well as a brush of Black Soot, and that was the topping.

So, as I say, a pretty close casing of Linda's tag, in a colour palette that took me out of my comfort zone... but in the sunshine, I'm almost convinced!!

Thanks to Linda for another fabulous bit of inspiration.  I hope I'm on track to get all the tags done and qualify for the prize draw sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique.  The details about the new deadline are here.  If you've got time on your hands, you could still make it!!

I'd like to enter this as Tag 3 in the Funkie Junkie's 12 Tags of Christmas
And also as my final Anything Goes entry this month into the Stampotique Designers Challenge

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all of you a joyous and peaceful festive season!

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
Norman Vincent Peale

Saturday 21 December 2013

Musical Christmas Box

Hello all - a warm welcome to you on this wet and scarily windy Winter Solstice.

Sorry to have been absent in Craftyblogland - as you all know very well, it's a busy time!  I'm looking forward to some quieter time over Christmas both for crafting and visiting.

In the meantime, I'm still squeezing in Funkie Junkie makes, trying to keep up with Linda Coughlin's wonderful 12 Tags of Christmas.  Most of this one was actually made a couple of weeks ago, but I only got around to the finishing touches and the gluing this morning.

It was inspired by Linda's  Tag 4.  (I'm happy to say I have completed more than four of them... I'm just going in a slightly random order!).

Thanks to Linda's extended deadline and bonus tags, I hope I'll be able to manage the January 8th deadline to complete them all.  That way I'll qualify for the prize draw sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique.

For a second time I've burst out of the tag format into another kind of creation.

This is because my main inspiration from Linda's tag was the wonderful letters layered onto burlap.  I immediately thought of one of the Artistic Stamper stamps I got recently, from the Victorian Christmas #2 set.

The problem with that, of course, is that while "NOEL" has four letters to fit nicely on a tag, Christmas gives you a whole nine letters to play with, so I was going to have to go another way.

Instead of a tag, I used a little wooden box tray which had been hanging around for ages.  

I gave it the full works with paint and Fresco crackle glaze, playing with the blues and browns which have featured already in several of my FJ makes this year.

And I used the Seasons Greetings from another Artistic Stamper set, Christmas Greetings #1, to decorate the outside walls of the box.

Rather than the beautiful vintage adverts Linda had, I lined it with some Tim Holtz music paper... and so it became a "musical box"!

I added a bit of pale blue stencilling to the paper for fun.

Over the musical background, I cut up the letters, added a bit of inky goodness, and layered them onto pale burlap.

It's all mounted on padded tape for extra dimension.

I think the Kate Greenaway figures around the letters are adorable.

And I'm guessing we can all sympathise at the moment with how letter C is feeling!

I made a few musical flowers with the same paper, die-cut from the Tattered Flower Garland decorative strip die, inspired by Linda's poinsettias on her tag.

And I filled two little jars - one with little wooden hearts and stars, and one with "snow crystals" (otherwise known as crushed glass/sand from that certain Swedish store we all know and love).

There's a pinecone (because I don't seem to be able to do a Christmas make without them at the moment)...

...and some rusty jingle bells tied up with string, as well as a wooden flourish to frame the central

I think I'll probably create some fixings on the back so that this could be wall mounted or hung up somehow.

Thanks so much for dropping in at this insanely busy time.  

I hope you're all in good shape for the festivities... I'm getting there! 

All being well, there'll be a continued stream of Funkie Junkie inspired creations over Christmas so that I can make that all-important deadline, and I can't wait to catch up with what you've all been up to as well.

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.
Laura Ingalls Wilder

I'd like to enter this as Tag 4 into the Funkie Junkie's 12 Tags of Christmas, sponsored by the Funkie Junkie Boutique.
And with plenty of stamping, I'd also like to pop it into the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge's attempt to Stamp Out 2013.

Thursday 19 December 2013

Picking favourites...

Hello everyone!  There's a pre-Christmas treat over at The Artistic Stamper at the moment.  

The Design Team are taking it in turns to share their own personal top three Artistic Stamper creations from 2013.

These photos are not my top three, they're my "nearly made its"!

Imagine, Inspire, Create

I've only been on the team since May, but I was also a Guest Designer in February, so I still had plenty of projects to choose from.  

If you scroll down to the labels at the foot of the post and click on "Artistic Stamper", you'll be able to see the full complement (unless there were some I forgot to apply the label to, of course!).


                                                                  A Place For Keepsakes

There were some real favourites that just didn't make the cut (that's what you're looking at here). Looking at them again now, I'd be perfectly happy with these as an alternative top 3!   Click on the links if you want to (re)visit these.

If you hop over to The Artistic Stamper you can see which ones I plumped for in the end.  

Do check back over the course of the week (and a bit) to see what everyone else has chosen - there are some wonderful things to see, or to re-see!

Thanks so much for dropping in at this busy time... and good luck with all the final preparations, everybody!

In the Undergrowth

We don't need to have just one favourite. We keep adding favourites. Our favourite book is always the book that speaks most directly to us at a particular stage in our lives. And our lives change. We have other favourites that give us what we most need at that particular time. But we never lose the old favourites. They're always with us. We just sort of accumulate them.
Lloyd Alexander
(He's talking about books... but I think the thought applies here too!)

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Fir Tree Christmas

Hello everyone... so glad you loved the Blissful Baubles - it's so lovely that you took the time to say so when we're all so busy.  Jeepers, it's getting close now - and I'm really not on top of things.

But I am slowly but steadily catching up with the Funkie Junkie's 12 Tags of Christmas (hmmm, maybe I need to check my priorities).

This is my take on Linda's fabulous tag number 5 which you can see here.  I was inspired by the beautiful, delicate stamping in the background, and have also cased the composition pretty closely, with the corrugated framing of Father Christmas at the centre and the large flower and lace.

As you'll notice, I'm poinsettia-less.  I have neither a stamp nor the poinsettia die (I'm not wild about them as flowers, to be honest) so I've had to go in slightly different directions.

And the other main difference is the colour scheme.

My alternative to the poinsettia stamp that Linda has in her background was to go for another plant-based image, and use the fabulous fir branch from the Artistic Outpost Snowy Woods plate.

So that pretty much governed my choice of colour...

I love Iced Spruce, and I always forget about it for some reason.  But this tag is very "woody"; it's all over fir trees... what with the fir branches and the pine cones, the wood-look corrugated card, not to mention the Snowy Woods stamps, so Iced Spruce was the obvious choice for the background colour.

My Father Christmas is also from the Snowy Woods set - a slightly more genial chap than this rather stern fellow on the previous FJ tag - a proper old man of the woods.

He's stamped on Specialty Stamping Paper which has had a delicate blending of Iced Spruce DI over it.

The sentiment is from Snowy Woods too (best Christmas stamps ever!), stamped in black Archival.

And the fir branches themselves are stamped in Iced Spruce, to keep that subtle tone-on-tone look that Linda had.

The flower is by Wild Orchid. I've yet to join the handmade flower crowd - especially at this time of year... no time, no time!!

I do occasionally make my own, but for this tag, I stuck to altering this rather beautiful gardenia.

It was a bit too yellow, so I went at it with gesso and all sorts of white sprays (Dylusions, Tattered Angels Chalkboard) until I'd muted it a bit.

The pine cones came from Live & Love Crafts, and have also had a touch of gesso for a snowy

I cut the holly leaves from patterned paper using Tim Holtz's Festive Greenery decorative strip die, and inked around the edges with Gathered Twigs (seemed appropriate given the woody theme).

Rather than the label, I used the Cabinet Card die to cut my frame - I think F.C. looks rather splendid inside.

There's another fir tree cone and holly leaf up at the top of the tag, with a bit more lace, tied together with some tea/coffee stained seam binding (ultra high-tech!).

Thank you, Linda, for another cracking piece of inspiration.  If you manage to get all 12 Christmas tags plus the two bonus ones done by January 8th, you'll get an even bigger discount at the fabulous Funkie Junkie Boutique... and three lucky winners will get vouchers to spend there.  A chance not to be missed.

I'll leave you with Father Christmas in the position I think we'll all be in in about a week's time... flat on his back!

Thanks so much for stopping by, and I'll see you out there in Craftyblogland soon.

Today's quote is the full version of one of my favourite poems.  Its last verse also appears on the Snowy Woods plate - are you starting to get that I like these stamps?!

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost

I'm entering this as Tag 5 in the Funkie Junkie's 12 Tags of Christmas, sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique.
With background stamping, focal image stamping and sentiment stamping, I'd like to pop it into the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge which is to Stamp Out 2013!
And let's also make it a third entry to the Stampotique Designers Challenge where Anything Goes this month.